Resilience and the science behind bouncing back

Our friend and independent financial advisor Dan Wiltshire, of Wiltshire Wealth, explains why the book ‘Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges’ is a must read.resilience book

This is not your usual fluffy self-help book.  In fact, it’s difficult to categorise at all.  Resilience (The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges) by Steven M. Southwick and Dennis S. Charney, is part biography, part psychology and part academic thesis.  There is no lightweight philosophy or sentimental platitudes, instead the book presents analysis on a range of strategies for surviving and thriving in times of crisis.

Organised into chapters focused on specific resilience factors such as fear, optimism and social support, each factor is described through the experiences and personal reflections of highly resilient survivors (including former Vietnam POWs, 9/11 survivors and ex-special forces instructors).

Central to the book is the definition of ‘resilience’; the authors draw a distinction between those who have a lower propensity to experience stress and emotion and those who have the ability to ‘bounce back’.

The book is realistic about our ability to become more resilient and is careful not to conflate feelings of stress with medical anxiety and depression.  It acknowledges the role of genetics and childhood upbringing as limiting factors, but does offer hope and insight into how we can improve our ability to cope as individuals.

One section – ‘How optimists and pessimists interpret events’ – suggests that we can increase optimism by adjusting the way we habitually think and behave.  Another chapter on physical fitness explores the link between mental and physical wellbeing – an area that particularly resonated with me, having gone from marathon runner to couch potato in five years.

For business owners and the self-employed there are additional work and financial pressures which can test our resolve and affect our mental wellbeing.  Whilst most business owners I work with love what they do, many describe feelings of loneliness and isolation at times.  Even so, given that the book focuses on ‘extreme’ trauma, some may find the book hard to relate to.

Personally, I found the book both comforting and inspiring.  It’s been a very stressful year for many of us, particularly those who have lost loved ones.  But even for those not directly affected, lockdown has proven to be a huge mental challenge and the first real test of what the book calls ‘community resilience’.

If, like me, you normally avoid self-help books, but are interested in the science of growth, self-mastery, and personal freedom, this book is a must read.

Dan Wiltshire

Dan Wiltshire

Wiltshire Wealth